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Sunday, 30 January 2011

Walk 19 Rochford to Wallasea Island (Essex)

Walk 19 Rochford to Wallasea Island (Essex)

Map: L/R 178
Distance: 8 – 20 miles depending on how far you decide to walk on Wallasea Island
Difficulty: easy, mainly flat
Terrain: mostly paths which can be muddy
Access: Parking at both ends
Public transport – Rail station at Rochford.   
ADDED INFORMATION: Many thanks to Hilary from the RSPB Wild Coast Project on Wallasea Island who has let me know that a new bus service runs from Rochford to Wallasea - No.174 the Crouch Village Link.

This walk gives a flavour of this quiet but sometimes bleak marshy part of Essex near to the coast. The start is in Rochford which is worth a quick look around. It is a medieval market town with some old buildings. Rochford Hall is one of these and was once owned by Thomas Boleyn the father of Anne- Henry V111 visited the hall before their marriage. It is now privately owned so only the exterior can be viewed. Nearby is St Andrew’s Church, the only church in England in the middle of a golf course!

Follow the roads and paths to the mill marked on the map and then down to the path that goes eastwards along Pagelsham Reach. Muddy marshy shores are revealed when the tide is out. After a couple of miles Barling Marshes and the church at the village of Barling can be spotted on the opposite bank. Bizarrely, near here a nude man was sitting on a chair enjoying the winter sun. A strategically placed umbrella preventing any embarrassment!

Further along Potton island and further in the distance Foulness Island can be seen. Potton Island is sparsely populated and in the 1980s and 90s was considered as a potential site for the disposal of nuclear waste. Foulness is Saxon for ‘cape of birds’. In 1982 it was chosen as one of the possible sites for a third London airport. As explained in the last walk, it is highly militarised and a phone call is required before attempting to walk on any section of it.

A few boats are moored along Pagelsham creek and a very rusty boat remains tied up, presumably abandoned. Before the creek becomes the River Roach follow the path up the side of Pagelsham Pool next to Clements Marshes. The path winds its way round until it reaches the road along which you can cross to Wallasea. Once over the other side, a path appears soon on the left, follow this up to the marina with its many boats and a pub. A ferry is near the path and this shuttles between the island and Burnham on Crouch on the opposite bank.

Wallasea Island was farmland mainly devoted to the production of wheat and was used extensively in both world wars to help feed the population. It has been subject to flooding especially in the severe storm of 1953. Currently it is undergoing a major conservation scheme – the largest ever undertaken in the UK. The RSPB aims to combat the threats of flooding by recreating the original mudflats and salt marshes. Once completed the island will be a haven for an array of wildlife with access for the public. Completion is estimated to be around 2019. 

It is worth walking a mile or so along this path to appreciate the view along the river. A large collection of wooden cases were rotting in the water when I walked this section.

At this point I returned but if you are feeling energetic the sea wall can be walked for some distance. I understood from a local that it is a remote and peaceful ramble although rather featureless.

Pictures: sailing boats at Wallasea Island; rotting packing cases on the shore at Wallasea.

1 comment:

  1. Hi
    many thanks for mentioning the Wild Coast Project on your blog. Just wanted to flag up that there is now a new bus service - the 174 Crouch Village Link - running from Rochford to wallasea and on through the villages to Southend. check out our latest blog for more info.